Aripiprazole long-acting injection (Abilify Maintena)

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Aripiprazole long-acting injection will be given to you by your doctor or nurse every month.

You may be asked to continue taking your tablets for 14 days after you have had your first injection.

If you miss an appointment for an injection, please make another appointment as soon as possible.

Type of medicineAn antipsychotic medicine
Used forSchizophrenia in adults
Also calledAbilify Maintena®
Available asLong-acting intramuscular depot injection

Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that causes disordered ideas, beliefs and experiences. You will have been prescribed aripiprazole to relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia. Such symptoms include hearing, seeing, or sensing things that are not real, having mistaken beliefs, and feeling unusually suspicious. Aripiprazole works on the balance of chemical substances in your brain to help control these types of symptoms.

Long-acting or 'depot' injections are used for maintenance once your symptoms have been eased by taking tablets. The injection slowly releases aripiprazole into your body. You will need to receive the injection regularly, once every month. The main advantage of a depot injection is that you do not have to remember to take tablets every day.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start having aripiprazole it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have a heart condition or blood vessel disease.
  • If you have had a stroke, or if you have been told you have 'thickening' of the blood vessels to your brain.
  • If you have liver, kidney, or prostate problems.
  • If you have any problems with your breathing.
  • If you have any of the following: epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, raised pressure in your eye (glaucoma) or a condition which causes muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
  • If you have ever had yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice) or a blood disorder.
  • If you have a tumour on your adrenal gland (a condition called phaeochromocytoma).
  • If you have had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you start the treatment, ask to read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about aripiprazole and it will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from having it.
  • Aripiprazole injection will be given to you by a doctor or nurse. The injection is given into a muscle of your bottom (buttock) or your upper arm. You will be given an injection once every month - it is important that there is an interval of at least 26 days between each injection.
  • You may be asked to continue taking your tablets for 14 days after you have had your first injection. This is because it can take a few weeks before you feel the full effect from the injection.
  • Your treatment will require careful monitoring to make sure that you get the best possible benefit from aripiprazole. Keep your regular doctor's appointments so that you get your injections on time, and your progress can be checked. If you miss an appointment for an injection, contact your doctor to arrange for another appointment as soon as possible.
  • If you are due to have any dental treatment or an operation, please tell the person carrying out the treatment that you have had an aripiprazole injection. This is important because it may interfere with any anaesthetic you receive.
  • If you buy or take any 'over-the-counter' medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with aripiprazole.
  • If you have diabetes you may need to check your blood glucose more frequently, as aripiprazole may affect the levels of sugar in your blood. Your doctor will advise you about this.
  • If you drink alcohol, please ask your doctor for advice. Alcohol increases the risk of side-effects from aripiprazole so it is best avoided.
  • Treatment with medicines like aripiprazole can sometimes cause problems with impulsive types of behaviour. If you notice any changes in your behaviour, such as an increased desire to gamble, you must let your doctor know as soon as possible.
  • A small number of people taking medicines like aripiprazole can have thoughts about harming themselves or ending their lives. It is very important that you tell your doctor about this if it happens to you.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with aripiprazole long-acting injection. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common aripiprazole long-acting injection side-effects
(these affect less than 1 in 10 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling dizzy, tired or sleepyDo not drive or use tools or machines. Do not drink alcohol
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Feeling shaky or restless, unusual or uncontrollable movementsSpeak with your doctor. You may be able to take another medicine to help reduce these effects
Difficulties sleeping, feeling anxious, weight increase or weight loss, dry mouth, pain at the injection site, muscular stiffness, erectile dysfunctionDiscuss these with your doctor if any become troublesome
Changes to the results of some blood testsYour doctor will check for these

Important: if you experience symptoms such as muscle stiffness, a very high temperature, feeling confused, a fast heartbeat and sweating, you should contact your doctor immediately. These can be signs of a rare but serious condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

If you suspect that you have had an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
29080 (v1)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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